There Is No “Right” Way

I feel like I have so many things going on in my mind right now concerning upcoming events, work and family that I apologize if this seems scattered, but sifting through my emotions on paper sometimes seems to help.

I am really trying NOT to judge my current eating routine and the new additions, but it is proving to be very difficult (similar to many things in recovery) because I am having these insane cravings.

I know why, and am familiar with their intensity because I have experienced it before. Not to mention it is pretty typical for those overcoming restrictive eating disorders.

Several people had e-mailed me before concerned about their own situations, or asking if I went through a period where I only wanted a certain kind of food.

Obviously, from my declaration that I am having specific, pregnant-woman-like menu desires I am all too familiar with this pattern in the process of getting healthy, and it is ALWAYS for foods that I limited; i.e. carbs and fats.

Normally I really like meat. All kinds of meat! But protein was pretty “safe” during my ED because I justified it by telling myself I needed it to maintain muscle.

*FYI you need a lot more than protein to build and maintain muscle.

Anyway, if we went to a restaurant my go-to was typically raw tuna.

If we ate at home I prepared lean beef, chicken, shrimp, etc. but there was never a shortage of protein in my diet, when you consider the percentage based on my caloric consumption. (There was a deficiency in nutrition overall, however.)

Now, although I still do force myself to eat protein with every meal, I only do so because I know I NEED it.

It doesn’t excite me or make my taste buds sing.

Instead I want peanut butter and banana sandwiches! I want nuts, hummus, cheese, cereal, bread.

The weird thing is, I am becoming quite snobby (differently snobby) about what form these things come in.

For example, if you handed me a regular piece of bread from the grocery store I would be totally bored. I want texture and oats and FLAVOR. I want a huge hunk of Great Harvest Main Line Crunch or even an Alexia Whole Grain dinner roll.

I don’t feel this is necessarily eating disordered, but more because I am a person who likes variety within my choices…crunch….taste…etc. and I am trying to give myself these things as much as I possibly can, but also without having a complete mental breakdown because I am not eating a “perfectly balanced” nutrient ratio.

In my twisted thinking, following a higher meal plan can only be somewhat “ok” by doing it the “right” way; healthy lipid sources, whole grains…

Well I have news for myself; this is maintaining the rigidity that controlled me for the entire duration of being sick and that is what has to go.

Because I am so “black and white” I am not good at being flexible, but that is not the way healthy living works. I think wellness definitely includes indulging in what your body wants sometimes, and for me, on an individual level, that may not be as balanced as I would like because my body has A LOT of NEEDS.

It is lacking pretty much everything, and has been for a really long time. This might mean that I do want particular things, at specific times, even if it doesn’t fit into my “perfect” exchange system.

Maybe my body is attempting to tell me “Hello! I am trying to live and restore some damage! I need energy to do that so give me so damn carbs! Preferably in the form of that delicious pizza you had last week!”

The point is, I need to throw pretty much all of my old beliefs out the window. I certainly need to make sure I am getting ENOUGH nutrition, but there is no RIGHT manner for me to do so.

If I want waffles at breakfast rather than oatmeal and eggs, oh well.

If I want peanut butter sandwiches everyday for a week, awesome!

At this moment I need to worry about getting my body to a healthy point, not the perfect equation of macro-nutrients.

At least that is what’s best for me.

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15 thoughts on “There Is No “Right” Way

  1. YES< YES<YES
    1000 x YES

    This is me exactly. Honestly…I've been thinkng this all week, and you've had vented your emotions on blog. Good idea. I know I should journal this stuff to sort through it but I can't bring myself to be one-on-one to a journal (and blogging seems fantastic to sift through emotions…but I fear that the disordered thinking will BECOME me…like it will become my identity when I'm trying to fight that, so that's why I feel a blog for me is not a good idea).

    ANYWAY,

    YES, during my orthorexia, PROTEIN was (and still is) HUGE in my life…all the time protein…it is safe, it is what the "books and magazines and blogs" say, etc etc etc…so that is no problem
    FATS are NO problem for me …oils, nut butters, nuts, fatty fishes, whole avocados, whole eggs, etc…no problem…never was a problem and still is not

    BUT carbs (grains) and sweets (chocolates, breads, desserts, cookies, granola bars, cereal, etc) that was all "no-no"…SO NOW….I'm binging on these things (at like MIDNIGHT every night….honest to god….I now eat chocolate EVERY night (if I don't have it I THINK about it all night long till I sneak out of bed and eat 30-45 grams of it in one swoop…
    I eat BREAD at meals…I eat crackers and rice, etc at SUPPER (when supper was always so supposed to be "no grains, blah blah blah" because all these "gaining and recovering" blogger girls etc only eat peanut flour for their source of carbs and ignore all grains unless they are "low carb and high protein" (so freaking annoying).

    BUT now I don't want "balanced" meals…now I want a meal with NO protein…but PB&J sandwiches…just waffles and syrup…just a tub of ice cream and a hummus tortilla LARGE wrap…a HUGE pizza with only cheese for protein without worrying about grilling up another protein to add to it, etc

    a nutritionist i consulted said yes, go ahead and do that…grilled cheese with tomato soup…pizza…pancakes with syrup…cereal and fruit and nuts with no protein, etc etc…but I can't get the courage

    SO, I have added in (and binging on) grains, breads, "junk" , chocolate, dessert, etc every night…but I still have GUILT when the carbs are taking over the snack or meal…or still feel like protein has to be there "somewhere"…my last nutritionist was really good at bringing the protein overhype into reality…cause she has "been there done that" and she quickly realized it wasn't mentally or digestively best at all…and she touts higher carb as NOT a problem

    I feel guilty now because
    A) I am binging on it,
    B) I want it ALL the time…and I want to forget protein and go ALL-carb sometimes (so sick sick sick of having to have the perfectly ratio-ed meals and snacks…sick of it)
    C) I don't exercise and am intentionally trying to gain…and everyone says "protein and fat for gaining weight when not exercising, blah blah blah"

    SO guilt…

    but late at night all i want to do (and often do) is devour EVERYTHING (i dream dream of cookies, cakes, pizza, ice cream, big cereal bowls, hummus on bread, PB sandwiches, etc…and that is AFTER a FULL day of high-calorie eats and AFTER binging on chocolate…its like i'm full to the brim and feeling sick but i want those other foods

    so i worry "will i gain wrong if i go ahead and give in to that? the nutriitonists and doctors say NO
    when i was in hospital a long time ago (at 25 years old) i was on bed-rest for 3 months…force-fed CRAP hospital food (deep dish pizza, mac and cheese, PB sandwicches ALL the time with thick bread and 4 tbsps of pb and banana and jam with full-fat milkshakes on the side , etc), junk , dessert like brownies, pie, cookies, etc at EVERY meal, LATE night snakcing, etc etc etc…I gained like 25 lbs
    and I did not NOT gain "WRONG" and the hospital barely barely had any viable protein, cause healthcare stinks and the options were barely there

    SO I KNOW one can do zero exercise, and eat junk and still gain fine

    BUT….I still am so twitsted and feel GUILTY for it now…when others seem to avoid that…why am i so freaking different from them (losing control, bingin, not wanting picture-perfect meals to gain, etc)

    I KNOW what you said is SO RIGHT….right now , we just need calories…macronutrient ratios and all that crap mean nothing nothing nothing….god, i could go on and on and on about this forever ….

  2. This is also a hard part in my recovery…it’s hard to listen to your body again after neglecting it for so long…it’s hard for me to trust it again but it’s getting easier each time I make a decision based on MY wants and needs and not Ed’s. You got this!! Keep moving forward<3

  3. I really urge you to listen to your cravings and allow yourself to enjoy the foods that you want. Try to remove the stigma that surrounds these foods because as another commenter said, when you make them “off limits” or “bad”, you are setting yourself up for a potential binge. Just as a pregnant woman should honor her cravings because that is what is best for her body/the baby, so should someone in recovery. You’re craving something because you NEED it. Please try to honor your hunger and your body – it will really pay off in the long run!

  4. When I started recovery, I ate Banana and Peanut Butter on toast for lunch every day for about a month because I never allowed myself PB. Then moved on to Banana and Nutella on toast for another few weeks because it had been years since I’d had the loveliness of Nutella. It’s out of my system now! Cravings are normal, give in to them and your body will appreciate it 🙂

    Good luck.

  5. I don’t know if you ever read Gena’s blog (Choosing Raw), but she is recovered from an ED and is now vegan (so maybe her blog would be triggering for you, I don’t know). But anyways, she has made the point before that she will not eat a meal she doesn’t enjoy because she only wants to associate positive experiences with eating. I think maybe what you are going through is also part of you figuring out who you are, like you discussed earlier this week with regards to clothes, activities, etc. You probably need to figure out if you actually like diet bread, and egg whites, and low fat everything, and if not – stop eating it! I really love Gena’s idea of only eating things she enjoys and honestly I eat this way too now. Throwing out food can seem wasteful but I’d rather waste bad food in the trash than in my body.

  6. This is my first comment on your blog, I totally can relate to the same things your going through during your recovery! I find this really helpful to read to know I’m not suffering alone. I get so confused when I get cravings, and think great if you give into this craving you will just be a worthless pig…and I just keep ignoring the craving and don’t know if there normal…gosh my head if filled with so much information you think I’d want to do something useful with all the time I spend in my head just thinking about food, calories, and weight!! It’s very frustrating but just no you are not alone in this! I also recently fractured my rib during exercise, so now that this structure in my day has totally changed I feel like I’m watching my intake even more now…ugh its like an endless struggle! It’s hard not to judge this part of my life but I am trying.

    • Isnt it horrible thinking about the wasted time spent worrying about things that are not overly relevant to a joyous life?! I really wish you the best of luck in your recovery and hope you heal well from your injury. Perhaps it was a sign that you may have needed to get in gear for the journey to health and wellness. I know it is so hard but like you said, you are not alone. if you need anything dont hesitate to e-mail! ❤ thank you for reading 🙂

  7. Girl get outa my head:) seriously though carbs and fats were my enemies during my Ed worst times and protein and fruit and veggies were safe. I find myself craving nut butters galore and carbs. It is really scary giving into it, but when I do, I actually find myself with less anxiety when I do it and more satisfied. Oh i totally get the food snob thing, for me i think it goeswith my perfectionism, like well ” if i eat this it has to be natural or perfect because that is safe” i am also working on the flexible thing! Thanks for posting this, it was a nice reminder!

    • i’m struggling…as usual…like always i met ALL my calories (and more) all day and all night on safer foods and some not-so-safe…all the calorie needs met, so don’t need more

      binging at night: cup of yogurt, bag of grapes, 4 tbsps of sunflower seed butter, bowl of granola, chocolate (and more…i just am too embarrarssed to keep going)

      its not that i underate calories all day (though i’m still only at “x” amount…) but that i try to be “semi-good” all day long…and binge EVERY night…

      and then my poor body and bowels are telling me i am making myself sick and actually hurting my body…i feel like i need a few GENTLE, “good” days before i get on a sensible track in order to ensure my bowels and body can stop the gas, pain, and constipation and messy stomach flora

      how do i react to this?

      • you react by giving your body what it wants…obviously fats and carbs which, like i said is what i crave too because i restricted them for so long and my body is screaming that it needs them.
        clean eating is relative and i think right now you need to focus on your health and getting your weight restored rather than judge what your hunger wants.
        easier said than done but i wish you the best of luck! we are totally in this all together! ❤

  8. One thing to keep in mind when helping yourself go with these cravings and not freak out too much over exchanges is that it’s pretty difficult to have a real protein deficiency in this country unless you’re way undereating of have a CRAZY diet (like fruitarian or something). I’m sure you know the nutrition in everything, hah, but if you stop to add up the 2 grams of protein in a hearty slice of bread and the 8 grams in a serving of PB, etc etc etc, you’ll find it pretty difficult not to hit the RDV of protein as long as your total calories are approaching OK. 🙂

  9. Better. Much, much, better! Shockingly, our body is actually built to extract energy from food, not exchanges, not macronutrients, not supplements, not whole, not raw, not pure, not nothing — just food. All kinds of food: Kung Pow Chicken, Greek Salad, French Onion Soup, Injera and Doro Wat, Fish and Chips — and of course Pizza.

    We have never lived longer than we do today. But sadly it isn’t the people you think it is. The folks with the least amount of illness and the longest lives? BMI 25-30. Really. Now of course you can only be at your optimal weight set point and 70% of women are naturally meant to be between BMI 21-27 so we don’t all get to be in that magic 25-30 range, but that’s o.k. As long as you live at your body’s optimal set point and don’t restrict, then your health and longevity outcomes are still pretty amazing. Where it gets a lot less rosy is for those who are underweight (relative to their optimal weight).

    And as for “binge” well you know what I think about that ridiculous misnomer when it comes to the hundreds of thousands of calories’ worth of damage that has been done to your body (and that’s in addition to the hundreds of thousands of calories’ needed just for the weight restoration)

    [ps — seegirlsmile — you are blissfully and completely in the extreme hunger phase of recovery. That’s your eating disorder no longer able to keep jamming the signals of extreme distress from your body. That’s your body finally being able to communicate to the formerly hijacked brain: “Hey girl, we are nowhere near done cleaning up this mess. We need much more energy now!” YAY!]

    It’s about the food ladies. It’s all about the food. Stop depriving yourselves of the energy that makes you take up real, solid, meaningful, “you cannot just ignore me” space. Those who love you are afraid of the hollows where your lively eyes once used to be.

    I’m going to quote one of my poster’s and her experience with recovery in relation to her very wise and amazing grandmother. The entire time this young woman starved her grandparents were just quietly there for her. Her grandmother drove her to all her appointments and they never really discussed the eating disorder. As she began her recovery she and her grandmother finally spoke about it and she asked her grandmother why her grandmother had never broached the topic, and she responded by saying that her granddaughter was simply no longer present at that time and so there was little point:

    “A skeleton couldn’t hold a personality as big as her girl’s,” was the exact quote.

    Her grandmother now feels she has her girl back. How many loved ones do all of you have who are simply waiting and aching to have your body take on the shape that can really be a home to all they know you can be?

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